We are pleased to introduce the SDAF Member Spotlight, our new monthly blog post featuring our most valuable asset: our supporters. The series will highlight the varied backgrounds, disciplines, experiences and viewpoints of our diverse membership.
We are especially pleased to launch this series by featuring a long-standing member of SDAF, Lloyd Russell, AIA. Lloyd and his work have received numerous accolades and awards, including 2 Orchids (R3 and Centre Street Lofts), and the 2009 Grand Orchid (The Station). Most recently, Centre Street was recognized in the LA Times for offering a "new vision for apartment living." Indeed, he is a visionary whose projects reflect fresh ideas about urban design and development - and he's a pretty darned affable guy, besides.
What attracted you to the design industry?
The Brady Bunch. Mr. Brady didn't have to wear a tie like my dad did! Seriously, I was always good at Math and Science but I didn't have any drawing skills until my senior year in high school when I figured out all the girls were in art class, so I was kind of a late bloomer. At about that same time I was taking humanities classes and I liked the idea of doing something that contributed to the history of arts and culture. And buildings stick around for a long time. After I visited the architecture studios at Cal Poly I was hooked.
How could we improve San Diego's built environment?
What's wrong with it? Oh yeah- the suburbs and no clear vision of what the city and its waterfront should be...you know we keep trying to hold on to the mantel of America's Most Beautiful City but when it rains I can't surf in the polluted water, its dangerous to ride a bike and when my kid is old enough I have to leave the city to go to a better school. We shouldn't be satisfied with that paradigm. We should lead the way in being environmentally responsible. We should stop talking about being bike friendly and start implementing plans to make it so. When we get to 100 miles of dedicated bike lanes (not shared painted stripes in the roadway) we can begin to compare ourselves to cities like Chicago and Portland-two places with honestly terrible weather and a better bike culture than ours. And how San Diego Unified funds schools is regressive. They could have a bigger positive impact than any redevelopment agency or urban plan rewrite with better schools in urbanized areas. Don't get me started on the pension debacle. But basically we citizens should be less complacent and hold our public officials accountable.
Where / what is the most inspired design to be found in San Diego?
A lot of people aren't aware of it but San Diego is getting national recognition for architect/developer led housing projects. I am flattered whenever I am in the discussion with Jonathan Segal and Ted Smith but there's a whole new generation out there, Mike Burnett/Craig Abenilla, Sebastian Mariscal, and everyone else associated with Woodbury's Master of Real Estate Development for Architects (MRED) Program.
Share 2 or 3 favorite building/ landscape/ interior/ designs and why.
My favorite modernists are the pre-WWII architects who were using new technologies and had a social agenda with their modernism before it became a style...Irving Gill and Rudolf Schindler are mavericks in that regard (and built their own stuff) so Pueblo Rivera down by Windansea is a favorite. I also think Henry Hester's apartments on 6th avenue get better and better and better the more I look at it. My favorite landscape is the path from Glider Port to Blacks Beach especially on a long period swell. My favorite bike paths are in Copenhagen where the parked cars shelter the dedicated bike lanes from traffic (which have their own traffic signals). Seeing the High Line in NYC this year was a highlight. Cocktail service poolside at the Ace Hotel in Palm Springs, wait I'm diverging....
What has been your most satisfying project to have worked on and why?
I've been extremely fortunate to have kind and considerate clients and all of those projects The Station, Rimrock, the house in Del Mar I am doing for Benno Baenziger-the unique relationship of client collaboration holds a special place in my heart, but nothing is as intense as financing and building your own design. I don't think I can ever replicate all the things that caused the R3 Building to come into existence so that one would have to be it.
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San Diego Architectural Foundation is a 501(c)3 non-profit organziation dedicated to education and promotion of outstanding architecture, planning and urban design throughout the San Diego region.
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San Diego, CA 92112-2228
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